A downright loving valentine to Italian giallos of the 1970s, director Yann Gonzalez’s “Knife+Heart” is a truly remarkable accomplishment for all involved. It recreates the graininess of disreputable grindhouse fare without a hint of irony or self-consciousness, while the acting effectively strikes a balance between serious and campy. It’s remarkable how the movie doesn’t seem like an homage to giallos as much as it seems to be a legitimate relic from the 1970s that’s been heretofore undiscovered. Gonzalez seems intimately familiar with William Friedkin’s notorious thriller “Cruising,” and manages to refer to it without attempting to duplicate it (in particular in the first ten minutes or so), and there are also shades of Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” sprinkled throughout. Additionally, there’s a fascinating story unfolding onscreen throughout, one that doesn’t feel threadbare nor needlessly complicated, so the narrative doesn’t get bogged down with unnecessary details or purposeless filler – it’s a relatively straightforward murder mystery that happens to be set in the gay pornography industry, and stylized like disreputable grindhouse fare. In the lead role, Vanessa Paradis is one hundred per cent believable every step of the way, and she is surrounded by top-notch talent that can tap into the superficiality of 1970s porn acting without acting poorly themselves (if that makes sense). This will likely be remembered as a trenchant slice of queer horror that’s casually uncompromising, and while it may be outside many viewers’ comfort zones, it’s totally worth a shot for horror fans in the mood for something memorably unique.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)